Top 5 Lakes of Tibet

Tibet, the plateau with the largest number of alpine lakes in China, covers totally 23,800 square kilometers lakes, representing thirty percent of national lake resources. Overall, there are more than one thousand lakes, big or small, three of which exceed one thousand square kilometers, namely Namtso, Siling lake and Zhari Namco. Geographically, lakes in Tibet consist of endorheic lakes and exorheic lakes. The former were formed by continuous crustal movement and were scattered mainly in the north and south of Tibet whereas the latter came into existence as a result of mudslide, volcanic eruption and melted snow or glaciers.

 

To ordinary tourists, the top three visited lakes are Namtso,( the biggest lake in Tibet), and Yamdrok Tso ( one of the most sacred lakes in Tibet) and Manasarovar ( a holy lake to the southeast of Mt. Kailash), with many more featuring distinct natural scenery. As it is virtually impossible to cover all the lakes in Tibet, 5 major lakes are to be discussed as follows:

 

Namtso

Situated at an altitude of 4718m, Namtso, along with Yamdrok Tso and Manasarovar is considered as a holy lake revered by Tibetans. The lake has a special place in Tibetans’ heart and it literally means ‘celestial or sacred lake’. Namtso stretches as far as 70 kilometers from the east to the west side of the lake and not only is it widely recognized as the second largest saltwater lake in China but also the saltwater lake with highest altitude in the world.

 

The dazzling turquoise water brides the horizon, making it difficult to tell whether you are walking on the water or the lofty snow-capped mountainous range looming far ahead is within your easy reach. Namtso is surrounded by many monasteries tourists can visit. The lake is also a major draw for migratory birds and brown bears, and wild yaks and Tibetan sand fox, and other plateau species. The best time to travel to Namtso is from May to September.

 

 

Manasarovar Lake

To the southeast of Mt. Kailash lies Manasarovar Lake. Among the three holy lakes, Manasarovar Lake has its special place in that it is a lake that is closest to Mt. Kailash, the center of the universe revered by Tibetan Buddhists, Hinduists. Pilgrims are deeply convinced that Manasarovar Lake is the sacred water bestowed by the Buddha and it can not only remove the nastiness of mankind, but more importantly is able to purify the soul and extend one’s life.

 

To ordinary tourists, Manasarovar Lake is a lake that you can’t afford to miss. The transparency of its water is said to be the highest and as you stroll along Manasarovar, the crystal-clear water plus stunning clouds and holy prayer flags will definitely blow you away. Aside from that, tourists can have a horse ride beside the lake while enjoying the wildlife and witnessing the devoted pilgrims circuiting the lake, which is known as Koras. Travellers can even ascend to Chiu Monastery to have a bird view of the grandeur of Manasarovar. And refreshing yourself in an open-air spring beside Chiu Monastery is also a favorable option. The best time to visit Manasarovar Lake is from early May to middle October.

 

Pangong Tso

Pangong Tso is a long and winding strip of lake that stretches from Tibet’s Ngari prefecture to Kashmir of India. The peculiar thing about this lake is that on the China’s side the water is freshwater while in India’s territorial the water is saline. Because of its winding shape, Tibetans name the lake Pangong Tso which means a swan with long neck.

Celebrated for its clear water, Pangong Tso features varied colors as sunlight changes

 

Yamdrok Tso

Yamdrok Tso, being the largest endorheic lake in north part of Himalaya, is known as one of the sacred lakes. The source of its water comes from the surrounding snow-capped mountains and there is no outlet for the lake water. As the melt of snow and its vaporization have a perfect balance, the entire lake is like a natural reservoir that fine-tunes its subtle ecosystem. Yamdrok Tso displays its unparalleled beauty with its tranquil and turquoise water.

 

Tibet2

Tourists can have a panoramic view of the lake from Khamba, la, with the large snowcap on Kula Kangri on the Bhutanese border. As winter comes every year, plenty of migratory birds, such as swans, ospreys and spotted eagles, will fly to this biggest habitat of birds in Tibet. In addition, Yamdrok Tso is also the largest freshwater lake in Tibet, and home to the hydropower plant with highest altitude in the world. Though the construction of this plant is fairly controversial, this plant does play a huge role as the major source of electricity to the south of Tibet. The best time to visit Yamdrok Tso would be from July to September, and it’s better to rent a car to visit it. Nagartse and Samding Monastery are also major draws for tourists near Yamdrok Tso.

Manasarovar Lake

To the southeast of Mt. Kailash lies Manasarovar Lake. Among the three holy lakes, Manasarovar Lake has its special place in that it is a lake that is closest to Mt. Kailash, the center of the universe revered by Tibetan Buddhists, Hinduists. Pilgrims are deeply convinced that Manasarovar Lake is the sacred water bestowed by the Buddha and it can not only remove the nastiness of mankind, but more importantly is able to purify the soul and extend one’s life.

 

To ordinary tourists, Manasarovar Lake is a lake that you can’t afford to miss. The transparency of its water is said to be the highest and as you stroll along Manasarovar, the crystal-clear water plus stunning clouds and holy prayer flags will definitely blow you away. Aside from that, tourists can have a horse ride beside the lake while enjoying the wildlife and witnessing the devoted pilgrims circuiting the lake, which is known as Koras. Travellers can even ascend to Chiu Monastery to have a bird view of the grandeur of Manasarovar. And refreshing yourself in an open-air spring beside Chiu Monastery is also a favorable option. The best time to visit Manasarovar Lake is from early May to middle October.

 

Pangong Tso

Pangong Tso is a long and winding strip of lake that stretches from Tibet’s Ngari prefecture to Kashmir of India. The peculiar thing about this lake is that on the China’s side the water is freshwater while in India’s territorial the water is saline. Because of its winding shape, Tibetans name the lake Pangong Tso which means a swan with long neck.

 

Celebrated for its clear water, Pangong Tso features varied colors as sunlight changes and it is surrounded by snow-capped mountainous range. The lake is dotted with islands of different sizes and is home to as many as 20 kinds of birds. Tourists reach these islands by boat where they can have a close contact with Bar-headed Geese, Great Blackneaded Gull, etc.

 

Basumtso Lake

Known as ‘Cuogao Lake’, Basumtso literally means greenish water in Tibetan Language. It lies in the valley of upper reaches of Ba river, 50 kilometers to Gongbogyamda County in Nyingchi prefecture. With an altitude of 3538m, and an coverage of 15 square kilometers, the lake is a sacred lake and a holy place of Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, and its spectacular scenery is often proudly compared to that of Swiss

 

Travelling in Basumtso Lake and its surrounding areas offers a diversified sightseeing experience. Tourists will be able to enjoy snow-capped mountains, greenish lakes, pristine forest , impressive waterfalls and lush pastures and ancient monasteries. Undeniably, the major draw for tourists is the stunning Tashi Island, an island that is located in the middle of Basumtso lake, where tourists can explore the Tsodzong Monastery of Nyingma Sect built in 17th century. Other options are travellers include a visit to aboriginal Jieba village where the age-old traditions and customs like polyandry are still practiced among around 80 households. In all, the breathtaking landscape and mysterious tribal tradition will absolutely make a rewarding journey.

 

For more Tibet Travel Destinations & Tibet Travel Information, please check out Tibet Vista & Tibet Tour  .

 

Leave a reply